1. “Don’t be that girl.”
Now this can be taken in so many ways, and coming from a pretty conservative (but 100% caring) family, this advice seemed natural to give to a young teenage girl going off to one of the biggest “party schools” in the country. Don’t be that girl who gets too drunk. Don’t be that girl that everyone talks about the next day for the wrong reasons. Well, to be honest, I’ve been that girl. I’ve been the girl who got too carried away with shots and ended up tripping over more than just her words. No doubt in the morning it was embarrassing and I wished life had a delete button, but without these experiences I wouldn’t be the person I am today. And first, let me say this. The notion of “that girl” is extremely sexist to me. It is a vague warning to not be a slut — a word that gets thrown around far too often. We all know the quote from Mean Girls about how we have to stop calling each other sluts and whores; Tina Fey didn’t put it in the movie by accident. My roommates and I made a pact that we would never judge each other and we would let each other make our own decisions and mistakes. We always have each other’s backs, but we aren’t about to take control of one another’s lives. Surround yourself with people like this. University is about exploring all aspects of life — even the ones that can get a little blurry sometimes. Learn from your mistakes, but allow yourself to make some first.
2. “Your school work comes before everything else.”
If I prioritized my studies 100% of the time, this article would have never been written. Don’t get me wrong, doing well in school is really important! College is expensive, in time and money, so not putting in the effort to do well is inexcusable (and frankly stupid). But there is also so much more to the experience than getting good grades (and I’m not talking about drinking). University prompts you to figure out what you actually want to do with your time on this planet! It allows you to explore the options, but only if you choose to do so. University is about finding your own way through life. The realization that I am getting closer and closer to being thrust into the real world is scary; however, it keeps me motivated and working hard for the things I am most passionate about. One of the many great teachers I’ve had once told me that “I have to drive the bus.” Forget calling shotgun; go for the driver’s seat!
3. “Always wear your shower shoes.”
The one time I forgot to wear them I watched my life flash before my eyes. Except — no, I didn’t. I certainly felt a little dirty, but I lived to see the light of day.
4. “Don’t skip class.”
Sometimes, mental health days are needed. I do not condone skipping classes excessively, but every now and again you have to take a day for yourself to regroup. Especially during the really busy seasons, like midterms and finals, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. Under all the papers and textbooks and formulas and essays, remember there is a person. You are a human being who is only capable of so much. So when you can no longer keep your eyes open, or you wake up feeling like your body is made of lead, maybe it is best to take a day off and stay in bed. Perhaps watch some Netflix and eat some popcorn? Sounds good, doesn’t it?
5. “Make sure you get enough sleep.”
I know I am contradicting myself, but hear me out. As nice as being well rested is, most of my favorite memories from freshman year took place in the early hours of the morning. Whether it’s a 2am Subway run after a night out or freaking out over a paper, the memories under the streetlights (or desk lights) always make me smile the most. And that includes the not-so-glamorous ones too.
Going away to school is fun — it’s supposed to be! There are so many people (including yourself) that can make the time truly special. Stay in the present, enjoy the excitement, and experience every last second of it, because like I said, the real world awaits you.